Yes, absolutely! But emphasis must also be made that for education toys to work, they must meet several criteria. Otherwise, these are just expensive toys that will not provide kids with learning opportunities and parents with value for their money.
The best educational toys are designed to promote physical, mental and emotional intelligence in children, as well as aid in their formal learning (i.e., for older toddlers who go to playschool). These develop a wide range of skills through sensory stimuli, problem-solving exercises, and hand-eye coordination activities, among others.
These are also designed to provide children with the opportunities to explore and discover concepts like colors, shapes and textures, as well as learn cause-and-affect relationships.
Both parents and teachers use educational toys in the home and classroom, both for play and learning purposes. But it’s also important to note that children learn better during play, so these toys are fun to play with, first and foremost. Let’s take a look at other aspects of educational toys so that we can have a better understanding of their importance.
How Do Educational Toys Work?
Also known as instructive toys, educational toys are objects used for playing and are designed to stimulate learning. These are also designed to address specific learning goals, such as teaching children a particular set of skills or allowing them to learn abstract and concrete concepts.
These toys are often used in home and school settings for this reason, as well as made with a wide range of materials including wood, plastic and metal, such as in the case of electronic educational toys.
But educational toys have another aspect that distinguishes them from other types. These are the simpler and smaller versions of objects used by adults in their day-to-day activities, thus, allowing children to model their activities on their older counterparts. The prime examples of these toys are dollhouses and play kitchens, although there are also wooden activity cubes that fit the mold.
In general, toys are defined as manmade objects designed for play-and-learn purposes. Of course, children can also play with objects in the natural world like rocks, sticks, and leaves but these aren’t considered as educational toys in the strictest sense for a few reasons. These aren’t designed objects (i.e., natural objects) and they don’t have expected educational uses and purposes.
What’s the Importance of Educational Toys?
Play and their objects are important for the development of the physical, mental and emotional, as well as social, skills of children. While it may seem like children are “just playing”, they are actually experiencing the world about them, learning new concepts and skills, and making new personal relationships.
Their experiences include a wide range of activities, too, from imitating others, solving problems, and reasoning with others, especially in learning about cause and effect.
But adult supervision is also crucial in letting children reap the most benefits from educational toys. Children will ask questions about their play experiences and adults, such as parents and teachers, should ideally be on hand to answer them. Parents and teachers should also provide guidance to kids without going the extreme of spoon feeding.
How Can You Choose Educational Toys?
With hundreds of toy manufacturers plastering their toys with “educational” labels for marketing purposes, parents and teachers are spoiled for choices.
And therein lies the trouble – you will likely be tempted to buy anything and everything with the label in hopes that these toys will, indeed, prove educational for your children. But without a proper mindset, you will not be successful in choosing the best educational toys.
Here’s a few tips that you can remember when looking at toys in a department store or online shop.
- Check that the toys are appropriate for the age of the children who will play with them. But no matter the age, the toys should be safe, especially in terms of the materials and construction methods used. This means that the toys shouldn’t have lead, phthalates, or BPA, as well as no loose parts and sharp edges that can cause injuries.
- Choose toys that are easy and straightforward to assemble and use. Keep in mind that educational toys should first and foremost provide hours of enjoyable time. Their features should obviously enhance skills needed for their overall development and growth.
- Select toys that other children can use so that social skills can also be developed. Wooden activity cubes, for example, have several sides that allow a few children to play simultaneously and share their experiences.
Parents may also want to read consumer reviews about the overall durability, performance, and benefits of educational toys, as well as read the manufacturer’s product description.
The best educational toys aren’t necessarily the most expensive ones. Instead, these are the toys that truly address the learning needs of the children who play with them, whether they are infants exploring their new world or toddlers learning new skills in preparation for preschool. Parents and teachers are also among the best playmates for children when they are playing with these toys although independent play is also important.